The exhibition ‘the tale of the whale’ shows how we have viewed whales through the centuries. You will learn about whaling and how it has made the whale an endangered species.

Between May 11 and July 8 2024, maintenance works will take place at The tale of the whale. The exhibition will remain open and fully accessible to visitors during the maintenance period. We apologize for any inconvenience.

what is there to see?

In the interactive exhibition we will take you through the history of whales and whaling.

for whom is this exhibition?

This exhibition is suited for families with children from 6 years of age and was made in co-operation with the World Wildlife Fund.

how long will the exhibition be on view?

The tale of the whale is among the permanent exhibitions and can be visited all year round.

where in the museum is the exhibition?

You will find the exhibition in the Western wing of the National Maritime Museum.

learn more about the whale in the west wing of The National Maritime Museum

what do you know about whales?

In the 16th century people knew very little of whales. They mainly found them scary sea monsters. When the Dutch sailor Willem Barentsz explored the Arctic Ocean, the image of the whale changed. The Arctic Ocean crawled with whales and Willem noticed how easily they were caught. More and more people started whaling, as you could make a lot of money with catching whales. The meat, the oil from the blubber and the whalebones brought in a lot of money on the markets.


In the 19th century the Netherlands stopped whaling. However, when after the Second World War there was a shortage of everything, whaling was resumed. In 1964 the last whaler sailed under the Dutch flag. Environmental movements all around the world were taking action against whaling. Nowadays, whaling meets a lot of resistance. The whale is even in danger of extinction!

did you know that…

… the Blue Whale is the largest animal on earth? The Blue Whale is a type of whale, which can weigh up to 170,000 kilos! With such a large body you are bound to have a large appetite. This whale eats approx. 3,500 kilos of plankton a day. Besides the Blue Whale, a lot of other whales are swimming in the oceans, such as the Sperm Whale and the North Atlantic Right Whale. Visit the exhibition ‘The tale of the whale’ and learn everything about the whale.

an interactive exhibition

The tale of the whale is made accessible in an interactive, educational way. In the exhibition you will learn a lot about the various kinds of whales, its habitat and how whales were viewed through the centuries. At the start of the exhibition the bowhead whale opens its maw for you, and at the end it show you its tail plunging down into the water.